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"Pull" Barcode Scanning Could Be Android's Killer App 296

Posted by timothy
from the be-a-frugal-gourmet dept.
Seor Jojoba writes "The release of T-Mobile's G1 Smartphone is shifting focus away from push-based barcode scanning, where embedded URLs send you to locations of a vendor's choosing. There is now more interest in pull-scanning, where product information is retrieved from user-specified sources. It may be that QR-Codes and other 2D barcodes will have their thunder stolen by 1970s-era linear barcodes. On the iPhone, scanning a 1D barcode is slow and unreliable. But the G1's improved optics and Android's improved access to image scans has made 1D scanning quick and useful, opening the gateway for killer apps that help people make spending decisions."
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"Pull" Barcode Scanning Could Be Android's Killer App

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  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Sunday September 28, 2008 @06:40PM (#25187883) Homepage Journal

    Let's just hope Google (and her telco partners) don't fuck it up.

    • by Tyger (126248) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @07:37PM (#25188359)

      My bet is on the stores to screw it up. Most stores get edgy about you whipping out a camera in their store. Now use that camera to potentially lose them money and see them throw a big hissy fit.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by QuantumG (50515) *

        You must go to different stores to me.

        Besides which, who cares about this bar code scanning crap? What's important is that we have an open platform with some decent market penetration that an industry can grow up on.

        • Capturing data in this way is a killer app that justifies the whole expense of the device to me -- even if the device had no other features at all. Cordless barcode scanners are pretty spendy units.

          So yeah the freedom is great. Let's not overlook that it's the freedom to share your killer app and so enhance the utility of this tool for people with similar needs to yours. There will be a lot more way cool stuff presently.

        • by tehcyder (746570) on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:39AM (#25191861) Journal

          Besides which, who cares about this bar code scanning crap?

          Maybe people who are reading a story about bar code scanning?

      • by ijakings (982830) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @07:44PM (#25188419)

        If a store trys to stop me whipping a camera out to compare prices ill just not shop there. If they dont stop me theres just a possibility I may not shop there. If they try to stop me using my own device they can fuck right off, even if they are the cheapest. ill just go to the next cheapest etc.

        Pretty drunk so please dont mod me harshley for this mini rant

      • by AvitarX (172628) <me@brandywinehun ... g minus math_god> on Sunday September 28, 2008 @09:00PM (#25189091) Journal

        Pricing isn't necessarily the killer app though.

        it's reviews of products. There is a lot of stuff I see, and would buy at a store, but can't tell if it sucks or not.

        Often times the instant gratification out-weighs the price savings of online. But rarely does it out-weigh the risk of crap.

        I would probably spend more at retail stores with this device.

      • by ronocdh (906309) on Monday September 29, 2008 @01:29AM (#25190959)
        If this feature is well implemented, people will use it. Stores can't do anything about a large number of their patrons behaving in a certain way.

        If you don't like the boundaries of what's considered acceptable behavior, behave exceptionally and let the boundaries catch up.
    • by kesuki (321456)

      you're missing the point. even if google and her telco partners screw it up, you can still make a google g1 appstore app and a website and everytime people scan an item with the g1 they give a location and price, and in return they get a list of locations and prices near them.

      even if google screws it up, anyone willing to becoem an android developer can fix it. except for 1 thing. the cost of using all the bandwidth this is going to take...

      well, you don't have to send the photo, so what you send is a 10 d

    • by wonkavader (605434) on Monday September 29, 2008 @12:26AM (#25190557)

      Let's hope they don't. But really, that's the nice thing about an open platform. unless they absolutely decide to kill it, it'll fly because the consumers want it to. And that's different from any other platform -- American cell phone systems have tried desperately (and largely succeeded) in absolutely killing anything the customer might want, because they see everything as a revenue stream ala ring-tones.

      It's bizarre. If the customer wants it, the telcos gleefully KILL IT and give them a crippled, pay-as-you-go version. This when the cell phone manufacturers are begging them to take phone with features, so the manufacturers can get some market cred/traction. But no, the cell phone carriers demand that features in phones be killed.

      Sigh. It's been embarrassing. You go to just about any other country and they've got better phones than use. Why? Because the telcos have the American consumer by the balls, thanks to a hefty lobbyist (read as "bribery") budget.

      But unless I'm missing something, here, if a telco supports an Android based phone, the consumer gets control and whistles and bells. Period.

      Hence, either telcos accept android based phones, or ...

      They SAY they will and phone manufacturers make 18 models of android phone, and then the telcos say, "GREAT! We love it! Just disable this and this and this." The phone manufacturers say "Sure!" and the phones go out, and we fix them. This happens for one year, and the telcos start telling the manufacturers to drop Android, or they won't buy their cheaper, crappier phones in bulk. And the manufacturers will get very, very afraid, and mysteriously stop supporting Android.

      We'll see. I hope this represents a real change.

      ---

      It's not the acting. When just one actor stinks, that's acting. When they all stink, that's writing and directing. Mostly directing. And it's not that you get inured to it, Straczynski and his helpers got better at it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by LionMage (318500)

        You know, I've witnessed this trend, and I wasn't sure what to make of it, but it is happening. I had a Motorola SLVR -- kind of an underpowered phone, but an attractive candybar style phone nevertheless. One feature it had which I liked was the ability to use voice dialing with a bluetooth headset.

        When I upgraded to a Samsung A737, I got a phone which was much more capable in some ways (faster processor and more memory, thus faster at running Java apps and so forth), but I noticed that voice dialing was

  • by sohp (22984) <snewton@NosPam.io.com> on Sunday September 28, 2008 @06:44PM (#25187911) Homepage

    Or a CueCat [wikipedia.org]. We know how big of a killer app.

    • by Seor Jojoba (519752) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @06:51PM (#25187965) Homepage
      Well, this time, you will not have to carry around a plastic toy cat with you and look like a damn fool. That could make all the difference, you know.
    • by FooAtWFU (699187)
      This one is portable, and also makes phone calls and surfs the Web on its own (you don't need to lug things back to your desk). And it'll work off regular UPCs.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by PPH (736903)
      The 1990s called. They want their technology back.
    • by gravis777 (123605) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @07:17PM (#25188189)

      Yeah, what a great idea that was. Let's give away scanners, and then people can scan a barcode and be taken to a website, so its ad supported. Problem was, to get that barcode, you pretty much had to own the item, at which time, you were like, um, what is the point of researching the item AFTER you buy it. Kind of a gimick.

      Sadly, the CueCat did have a very practical application that I used it for, but I had to hack it first. There is a program out there called CatNip that will let you use the CueCat as a standard light pen. When combined with a a databasing program for media such as those from CollectorZ, which refrences your material to stuff it pulls off the internet, you suddenly have a very cool product. I can now scan a UPC symbol on a movie, it pulls the description off of IMDB and cover art from Amazon or DVDEmpire or one of the dozens of other DVD sites out there, and makes a nice list. I can then specify where the movie is located, and even check movies out to my friends, and know where they all are through this cool app. I can then publish the whole list to html and upload it to a site, so now all my friends can see what movies I have.

      So, yes, the CueCat was very cool and useful and I still use mine. Problem is, I found absolutely ZERO value in what they were actually trying to use it for.

      • by A nonymous Coward (7548) * on Sunday September 28, 2008 @07:28PM (#25188271)

        So, yes, the CueCat was very cool and useful and I still use mine. Problem is, I found absolutely ZERO value in what they were actually trying to use it for.

        And therein lies the tale of why Android just might have a chance -- IIRC, CueCat did their best to stop people from using it in ways other than what it was sold for. They sued some people, IIRC, tried to obfuscate the data format, had a unique key from each cuecat sent back with the rest of the data for tracking individual cuecats, and generally acted like dickheads and thus went under.

      • by Sancho (17056) * on Sunday September 28, 2008 @07:29PM (#25188287) Homepage

        Yeah, what a great idea that was. Let's give away scanners, and then people can scan a barcode and be taken to a website, so its ad supported. Problem was, to get that barcode, you pretty much had to own the item, at which time, you were like, um, what is the point of researching the item AFTER you buy it. Kind of a gimick.

        You missed the point. Cuecats were given away with Radio Shack catalogs, which included the bar code for almost every item listed. In a way, it acted as a bridge between old mail-order (catalogs) and e-commerce. They were never intended to be used with anything else (even already purchased items, as they wouldn't read standard barcodes), and I think that there were even some takedown notices regarding the various hacks, at first.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by konohitowa (220547)

          You missed the point. Cuecats were given away with Radio Shack catalogs, which included the bar code for almost every item listed.

          Mine came with my Wired subscription...

    • by chrisd (1457) *
      This isn't like that at all....the phone can read bar codes, which is nice, it isn't some grand marketing initiative with tie-ins with Wired and all that. But I can see people replacing the old bulky symbol style handhelds for something like this.
  • Oh, god, no. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by name*censored* (884880) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @06:44PM (#25187915)

    If this takes off, it'll result with me waiting in the supermarket checkout line for 5 minutes behind some idiot arguing with the cashier because his phone says a different price to the register. As if phones in supermarkets haven't caused me enough grief...

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Greyfox (87712)
      Well if your Android phone ALSO has a tazer built in, you could taze that guy and then you'd be the hero of the supermarket! All hail open source!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by davolfman (1245316)
      Only in Europe. In the US the barcode doesn't carry price information.
      • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Monday September 29, 2008 @04:38AM (#25191649) Journal

        Come on, as a programmer/designer this pisses me off. Only a complete and UTTER idiot would include price info in the barcode.

        What if you had a price change? You would have to change the barcode on all your products.

        As the article explains and anyone on slashdot could expected to know, a barcode (the 1D kind we are talking about here) ONLY has enough information for 10 digits. It is a 'unique' indentifier. The cash register scans this unique code and then looks it up in the stores database to get the price and whatever other information you could require.

        To think that you would put the price of a product in the barcode is silly. ONE of the reasons why the switch to barcodes has seen the removal of price-stickers on products is that with barcodes you can easily change the price.

        The OP simply meant to point out that he got the PRICE from the INTERNET with the unique code and is arguing that the price retrieved by the cashregister from the stores database is in-accurate.

        And this discussion already happens daily in stores whenever there is an mistake made with special offers or a new product incorrectly entered.

        My own recent story is of a frozen fries, used to be 1kg packages but suddenly they had 2.5kg packages but no record of it in the database. In the end, I got it for the price of 1kg while they went and sorted it out :) Got to love lousy math skills, a fair price would have been 2x the price of 1kg, but I suppose that was to complex.

    • What is this cashier thing you speak of? And why would someone argue with it? Is it some kind of improvement to the self-checkout system?
  • by lancejjj (924211) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @06:50PM (#25187961) Homepage

    This is spot-on. Yes, many years ago there was an attempt to invest heavily in barcode readers - the Cuecat, in particular, was a well-funded attempt to bring barcodes to the masses. But due to a major error in their business model - a grave error - the 'cat lived an extremely short life.

    Jump ahead to 2008. People are buying fancy telephones, and there are barcodes everywhere. Google is in a unique position to read and process these barcodes on the fly - using a well-connected application living on a mobile phone. Next thing you know, you'll be able to go to the store, pick up a six pack of Bud, and scan in that barcode. THEN you can find a cheaper vendor - maybe down the street. YOU WIN due to CHEAPER BEER.

    And we know that the world, with its flailing economy, will certainly needs cheaper beer. The cuecat was just ahead of its time.

  • by syousef (465911) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @07:08PM (#25188099) Journal

    I have bar code scanning on my latest phone. It doesn't work. The camera just keeps going in and out of focus. Having never had much to do with barcodes in my IT work, I decided to look at open source bar code readers and scanned in the bar codes on a few things (like my son's birth certificate). I looked and the standards and my own scans quickly found that often the number was often printed right beneath the barcode. Barcodes were made when computers were slow and had trouble doing OCR. They're a lot better now. Bar code scanning is still useful to some degree but to call it a killer app is a bit much.

  • I used to work for a big (biggest?) developer of games for mobile phones and I think we used to sell games in Japan using some sort of barcodes (with squares). We would put game ads in magazines and the user would just scan the barcode with the phone and buy the game. So this is nothing new or that difficult to do, it just hasn't caught up in the west yet. Hmmm, so I just checked and it seems that those were the QR-codes that the article talks about. I never bothered to check before as we were just making
    • by Bryan Ischo (893) *

      If you checked and discovered that your comments were irrelevent before you posted, why on god's green earth did you then go and click 'submit'. The correct choice would have been your browser's "back" button ...

  • Scan bar code? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fermion (181285) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @07:10PM (#25188113) Homepage Journal
    I did not realize that either phone had a bar code scanner, which means that this must mean the user has to a picture of the bar code.

    I just did an experiment and indeed the phone does not seem to be able to take a reliable picture of a bar code. I don't think it has to do with resolution as much as the crappy lens inherent in cell phone cameras along with the the fact that cell phone cameras were not made for macro photography, a tricky proposition even with a real cameras. To take back the resolution thing, a higher resolution may let the software extract the bar from a normal, non macro, photo.

    So here are my two questions. First, is the lens on the G1 that much better? Second, Isn't this fundamentally a software problem. A bar code is a defined form with a known and rigid structure. Even with a blurry/fuzzy photograph, it should be possible to clean up the bars. For that matter, why are we even dealing with bars. The numbers are there under the bars. Why not use those?

    In any case, how many people use this application? This is the first I heard of it. I certainly don't go around taking pictures of bar codes. The only time I thought about doing it was for my library, but a scanner seems like a faster solution.

    • Second, Isn't this fundamentally a software problem. A bar code is a defined form with a known and rigid structure. Even with a blurry/fuzzy photograph, it should be possible to clean up the bars. For that matter, why are we even dealing with bars. The numbers are there under the bars. Why not use those?

      I thought the same thing. Try to OCR the numbers and then regenerate the barcode and compare it to the picture for verification. But I doubt that all the barcode scanner app programmers have missed something that you and I thought of in a matter of minutes so I can only assume that either they already do this or that it doesn't work well for one reason or another (e.g. computational cost, or maybe if the barcode is too blurry to figure out then the numbers are useless too).

  • Killer App? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @07:12PM (#25188139)
    Are we seriously considering a bar code scanner a "kiler app"? To me, a killer app is one which makes you absolutely want it, even if it means making a different hardware decision. You know, like how Halo is a killer app for XBox. A barcode scanner might be neat or even nifty and, to some rare individuals, it might be an absolutely killer app, but for the majority of people I see it being nothing more than a novelty app - something that's cool to have and you use from time to time but, most of the time, you forget you even have it.

    Then again, maybe the poster is using "killer app" in a different way than I would...
    • A barcode scanner might be neat or even nifty and, to some rare individuals, it might be an absolutely killer app, but for the majority of people I see it being nothing more than a novelty app - something that's cool to have and you use from time to time but, most of the time, you forget you even have it.

      Then again, maybe the poster is using "killer app" in a different way than I would...

      That or the poster has worked in a warehouse. I've worked in one that's completely barcode-driven.

    • by LingNoi (1066278)

      I think this is a great item for price comparison.

      Say you're buying an HD TV or something big. You snap a picture of the barcode and it pulls down a list of places which have it cheaper. If you can't see what's so killer about that then maybe you should go back to your xbox and let the adults talk.

      PS: I hope you've finished your homework, school day tomorrow.

    • by gmuslera (3436)

      If well dont have to be specific for the Android (probably most cellphones with camera could work this way if had enough cpu power to spare), IS some sort of "killer app".

      Converting images to "data" (reading barcodes is not the only application, but maybe one of the easiest ones... OCRs, face recognition and others could work the same way) is another way to link the real world you are with the virtual one. You take that data, and search for it where is relevant, knowing more about products (books, CDs, fo

      • by wik (10258)

        Great, not only do we have idiots walking around talking on their phones and not paying attention to the busy streets/sign posts/cliffs in front of them, but now they're going to be trying to aim a camera phone towards the person in front of them at the same time?

        I'm reminded of the borg.

    • Regardless of how '1990s' bar codes are, if this phone will allow me to walk into a store, scan an item, and within seconds tell me the price of that item at competing local and online retailers... that is a killer app.

      There was a post above about cheaper beer, and not only will this enable you to find cheaper beer, if 10% of people carry these things, they'll inform 80% of the shopping public that cheaper beer is available down the street - which should make the beer cheaper where you are standing in a ve

    • by syousef (465911)

      To me, a killer app is one which makes you absolutely want it, even if it means making a different hardware decision. You know, like how Halo is a killer app for XBox

      Perhaps to you that's what it means, but to the rest of the world its a new must have application that is innovative and gives the world a new capability. It is the new capability that makes users switch vendors and buy new product. A spreadsheet is a killer app for the PC for example. It offered finance types a new fancy automated calculator (

  • A bit illogical... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by denzacar (181829) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @07:14PM (#25188163) Journal

    Ok... TFA pushes the idea for what would essentially be a product database.
    You scan the bar-code, it gets sent to the server, which returns useful data to you.
    OK... I can see how that should be useful to consumers as well as a hypothetical company that makes its living out of contextual commercials.

    BUT... The TFA goes on and on about how it MUST be 1D barcodes and NOT 2D barcodes - despite the fact that 2D barcodes are easier to read for mobile phones because of redundancy and greater bandwidth.
    And since The New PhoneTM has the optics that can FINALLY read 1D barcodes - let us make a database that handles ONLY 1D barcodes.
    Cause... there is like a lot of them out there.

    Hmm... how about this GROUND BREAKING idea I just had.
    Make the "killer app" capable of reading both 1D AAAND... wait for it... 2D barcodes.
    HA?! Isn't THAT fuckin' brilliant or what?
    At the cost of... umm... nothing... you get a "killer app" that works on The New PhoneTM AND all those phones out there already.
    Which it would be pretty stupid to just disregard.
    Cause... there is like a lot of them out there.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ost99 (101831)
      The whole point of using 1D barcodes is that they are EVERYWHERE. Every packaged item sold anywhere has a UNIQUE 1D barcode. Makes it a bit easier to build a DB from don't you think?
      • by denzacar (181829)

        The whole point of my post is that it is pointless to build a database to 100% of data that can be accessed by only a limited percent of phone users - because it is based on only one kind of input.

        Make it a 1D and 2D barcode database and you still have your 100% of data - AND a greater potential user base.
        PLUS you get the producers of all those products out there to start competing for not just only that small fraction of consumers that MAYBE have a compatible phone and that MAYBE buy and use their products

        • by Ost99 (101831)

          2D barcodes are not necessarily unique to one product. They are usually used to convey a message to the user (in the form of a link), not for identification. (The whole push thing).

          1D barcodes used on products follow a unified identification scheme (Universal Product Code), and this is more suitable for the pull thing the article was about.

          It's probably possible to embed the UPC number in a 2D barcode, and it's possible to not use it in a 1D barcode. But that's not how it's usually is.

    • You're the illogical one. The point of TFA is that almost all products have old fashioned 1D barcdoes abd very few have the new 2D barcodes. What benefit is to be gained from adding 2D capability when so few 2D barcodes exist?

      Furthermore, 2D barcodes encode info that the app in question (GoCart/ShopSavvy) doesn't use. The app uses that barcode to look up dynamic info, such as prices and availability on the web and locally (based on your current location from the GPS), and user reviews. You can't put dyn

      • by denzacar (181829)

        What benefit is to be gained from adding 2D capability when so few 2D barcodes exist?

        Yeah... What benefit is there to create asphalt covered roads and rubber tires when everyone out there still uses horses?

        No... wait... bad analogy.
        Adding another input to the database costs nothing. Roads and tires cost money.

        You can't put dynamic or user content in a 2D code

        And you can in a 1D code?

        the best you can do is a URL to a site controlled by the manufacturer, which may or may not still exist.

        No.
        You can put up to 2,335 characters in a single data matrix code.
        You can have the entire 1D code, plus the link to the site, plus the promotional message, plus etc. etc.

        And it costs nothing to implement. While at the same time it promotes competition among th

        • So let me get this straight. 2D is easier for computers to read, and the carrot up to now has been that 2D barcodes, and only 2D barcodes, enable current cell phones to process barcodes, thus reaching a big audience. In spite of that carrot and the proliferation of cell phones with cameras, there are very very few 2D barcodes in use. This carrot seems to be not very tasty.

          Now along comes a phone which can process the older 1D barcodes, and the response is ... wait for it ... it ought to include 2D capabi

    • by ConanG (699649)
      Maybe because there are multiple 2D barcode formats out there competing for shelf space, almost all of are proprietary and licensed, and 1D barcodes are universal and free?
    • by Jaime2 (824950)
      It doesn't have as much to do with the barcode as it does the business model. The "push" model is where vendor put special 2D barcode on products that are specially designed to be scanned by phones. The "pull" model is to use whatever barcode is already on the product and gather information about it. Push usually implements 2D barcodes to get more data in it, pull uses the existing barcodes, and most of those are 1D. So it really must be 1D, because almost nothing has 2D barcodes.

      As a consumer, I don'
      • by denzacar (181829)

        As a consumer, I don't want to read the 2D barcode. That barcode is in the vendor's interest and will likely be very difficult to correlate with products from competing vendors or to find availablility from multiple sources to price shop. All I need is the UPC. Even that needs some massaging because some stores ask the vendor to put special UPCs on their products.

        And info relayed to you by google will most certainly not be in vendor's/manufacturer's interest?
        Cause... god forbid that google might peddle adds for products and services, right?

        All I need is the UPC.

        The world needs more. That is why EAN exists.

        More room for data (which 2D barcode has) means more opportunity.
        Manufacturers can keep their "personal interest data" and include the 1D data needed for the "killer app" database.
        But... if there is such a killer app database out there - "personal interest data" soon becomes useless.
        Cau

  • Interesting. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zullnero (833754) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @07:43PM (#25188413) Homepage
    I got my start doing stuff like this on the PalmOS Symbol handheld scanners back in 1999. I've done this same stuff for years on various handhelds running mobile OS's. As long as you can scan a freaking barcode, you can store that info and hit that website when you sync...whether it's through a wired connection, a wireless connection, it doesn't matter.

    You can reinvent something 10 years later that people have done for years, and now it is a "killer app". If Google does it, apparently, idiots pay attention and it is suddenly, somehow, feasible and marketable.
    • by ciaohound (118419)

      I remember those Symbol devices, and they had a dedicated laser scanner that could reliably scan a bar code from a good distance while held at various angles. In other words, they were rather expensive, specialized devices. Now, of course, every phone has a camera, and some clever software makes the camera work as reliably as those old laser scanners? That does sound like something new.

    • Re:Interesting. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @09:31PM (#25189325)

      As long as you can scan a freaking barcode, you can store that info and hit that website when you sync

      And that's where you missed the point about why this idea is getting a little bit of hype - this isn't about doing it as a batch job at some point in the future, it is about real-time lookups. So you can scan that box of cereal in the grocery and know immediately if their pricing is in line with other nearby stores and online sources or if the price is jacked up by 50 cents because they don't expect people to comparison shop very closely for something as mundane as a box of cereal.

      It could even be smarter than that - tell the software that you are going to go shopping at two stores and as you shop at the first store, the app tells you if the product you just scanned is cheaper here or at the next store. If it is cheaper here, put it in the basket, if it is cheaper at the next store then you put it back on the shelf and the application adds it to the shopping list for the next store.

      It is all about the convenience, waiting for a sync is not convenient.

    • The killer portion of this is in the number of people that (might) use it... if it's only in the hands of nerds carrying Palm-Symbols, it's as interesting and useful as a ham radio - great if you're a ham-nerd yourself, big yawn for the other 99.7% of the population.
  • I'm trying, really, to imagine why I'd want this on my phone.

    If I'm at Best Buy, and I scan a DVD and it comes up $2 cheaper at Wal*Mart down the street, I still don't think put up with driving, parking, and all that hassle just to save a few bucks. Now, if it were 35% or 50% higher, then sure, but that rarely ever happens in the retail environment.

    And if it found it $2 cheaper on Amazon.com, then that's great. That at least gives me the choice... buy it now for $15 or get it in a couple days for $13. Bu

    • by perlchild (582235)

      I was thinking the same thing about inventory. Bunch of hp servers coming with barcodes for serial numbers especially.

  • i want to be able to call my girlfriend and well, give her a buzz

    i mean this thing is called android afer all, right?

  • by rbrome (175029) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @08:48PM (#25188993) Homepage

    I was at the T-Mobile/Google launch event last week in NYC, and had a chance to try this. I also have an iPhone.

    First, this is not a Google-made app, it's called ShopSavvy and it's from a third party. It will come preloaded on the T-Mobile G1, though.

    It's neat. It's very easy to use and returns simple links to product reviews and prices from multiple online sources.

    vs. the iPhone:

    Barcodes on the iPhone are NOT slow. They ARE unreliable, because the iPhone has a fixed lens that simply cannot focus on something up close.

    The G1's "improved optics" is an auto-focus lens that can focus on things up close. That's why this works. It's very slow, though.

    "Improved access to image scans" is bullshit. It's the same in Android as the iPhone or any smartphone, at least for something like barcodes.

    MANY smartphones have a high-res camera with auto-focus lens and can run third-party software like this (which has existed for a while). It's nothing new. It's only in the news now because Google chose to feature it during their press conference and demo session at the event in NYC last week.

    Also, the whole 1D vs 2D thing is beside the point. 1D is the type that's printed on all products at any SHOP, so of course it's the type that a SHOPPING application is designed to scan.

  • The software for scanning UPC codes isn't all that difficult, the problem is focal length. Most cell phones can't focus on close objects, such as UPC/EAN codes because they have a fixed focal range from about 1 foot to infinity. If you position the bar code far away from the phone, you don't have nearly enough pixels of resolution to get a good reading. One workaround on older phones has been to attach a macro lens, such as the one available for the Nokia 3650.

    The Android phone must have one of the newer

  • I love the example that was given. If Google wants to buy me lunch every day, that's fine by me.

  • What many seem to be missing is "the bar code image could have been processed by googles 150,000 servers" not the software on the phone. The real power of Android is it's ability to leverage googles services for pre/post processing. For example, lets say I want to add an effect to a picture I have recently taken. Now imagine the effect is way beyond the processing ability of the mobile phone. In the case of the android phone it seamlessly uses a simple image editing front end then for hard tasks it sends th
  • I know, offtopic, but are their cheap scanners out there now? I'd like to inventory my CD, books, etc.

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